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Sonny Sixkiller

Buys the Washington Redskins

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What: Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Washington Redskins

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What: Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Washington Redskins
When: 7pm Sat., Sept. 20
Where: Whatcom Community College, 237 W Kellogg Rd, Bellingham
Info: redskins.brownpapertickets.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Here’s a different spin on the controversy surrounding the name of the NFL football team in the nation’s capital: What would happen if Sonny Sixkiller, a Cherokee and one of the greatest quarterbacks to play for the University of Washington, bought the team? And then kept the offensive name and instead changed the players’ names? That’s the story inside a new play, Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Washington Redskins, by Lummi elder Darrell Hillaire.

The Redskins organization has tried to frame this issue as one that Native Americans don’t care about. The play—and, indeed, Sixkiller himself—says that just ain’t so.

In the play, Sixkiller, the former NFL quarterback who lives in Seattle, offers to buy the Washington NFL team from current owner Dan Snyder, who insists that the team keep its name or no deal. Sixkiller gets the last laugh, converting Snyder’s fumble into a goal.

“So, the Indians change the names of the players,” Hillaire said. “It was an idea that came to me at the beginning of the year, and I thought, ‘I need to bring this to life.’ There’s a lot of humor here—it’s respectful, but it shows the irony of everything and sheds a light on this attitude of racism.”

Hillaire started writing the script in March. Elaine Miles, Cayuse/Nez Perce, and Vaughn Eaglebear, Lakota, will perform onstage in the political satire. The play is directed by Dennis Catrell.

“I am honored for my name to be attached to this play,” Sixkiller told Indian Country Today. “Although the play is an act of fiction with a lot of laughs, it also raises the very real issue of racism against Indians in a new and creative way.”

“If the play is a success, Sonny himself might star in another performance,” Hillaire laughs.

The play is Hillaire’s fourth contribution to performance art. He produced a short film, It’s Good to be Home, about a teen in foster care who returns to the Lummi reservation and has a dream featuring animation drawn in Coast Salish art style. Most recently, he produced the play, What About Those Promises?, about the unfulfilled commitments of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. The play has been performed to sold-out audiences in Bellingham, at Seattle University, and at Lummi’s Silver Reef Casino.

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